Beth Israel's Transparency-Touting Levy Apologizes for Doing Something to Someone

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media , April 28, 2010

These contradictory statements can easily be explained: Beth Israel doesn't know what to do. They have an idea that they should get ahead of the story, but they don't want to go and spill the beans just in case the anonymous letter writer is going to keep quiet. The only problem with this approach is the ensuing wave of speculation.

Every hospital and health system, regardless of how much your leadership talks, blogs, or tweets about transparency, must craft a detailed crisis communications plan. With a strategy in place, all of the key players in your organization will know how to react when something unfavorable breaks without holding a panicky shot-gun meeting.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this story is that at press time, Levy hasn't addressed the issue on his blog—one of the best media to share unadulterated information. A couple years ago, I spoke about the transparency benefits of blogging with Nick Jacobs, then-CEO of Windber (PA) Medical Center.

"When we take on issues in the blog, it is the ultimate form of transparency," he said. "How often do you really know if your quotes will be printed as stated? How many times has the reporter interpreted your explanations a little differently? The blog puts it out there, blemishes and all, in an open, honest way."

When and if Levy addresses the situation in public, it will be too little, too late. The sidestepping verbiage isn't fooling anyone and, once everything is on the table, the evasiveness is what the community will remember.

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